ZOOM Auditions-Here to Stay?
ZOOM Auditions; Here to Stay?
Air Date: 4/13/2023
OK, so just because I thought Zoom was a designer drug from France three years ago doesn’t make me naïve. I just never used the platform before Covid. Then, suddenly, I was holding meetings and Zoom auditions all the time. Within the blink of an eye, I became an expert on how to audition on Zoom. Agents were asking me to teach their clients. Actors were like, “Can you please let me know if this looks good?”. Schools were trying to get me to teach Zoom acting on Zoom! But now, Covid restrictions are easing up and I just did my first “live” EPA for Contemporary American Theatre Festival (CATF). Now the question is, “Are Zoom auditions now a thing of the past?” Let’s look at the pros and cons of acting on the Zoom platform and answer the question, “Are Zoom auditions here to stay?”
First, let’s look at the positive uses of Zoom post pandemic (I know, it’s not over, but things have eased up quite a bit). Using Zoom as an audition resource is really efficient. I can see more talent within the same time schedule than when we were holding them live. In other words, it opens more opportunities for more actors to be seen. Next, actors can literally be anywhere in the world and still audition. I recall a session where the Director was in Los Angeles and the actor was in London…I was in New York! Also, when you audition on Zoom, you are (presumably) in a safe place. It is not a hassle to go to the audition when it is in the next room (or same room even). Finally, the platform itself is an excellent representation of what you will act like and project for film and television projects. The platform is closer to the medium than a live, in person audition.
Next, let’s look at the negative implications of the Zoom audition. Zoom is not the most flattering when it comes to your looks. The cameras on our laptops leave something to be desired. Unless you have professional equipment, it is not a true image of how you really look. Second, there is no question that the lack of personal connection to everyone “in the room” is frustrating, at best. Finally, actors are in a frustrating position to take on more technical knowledge re camera position, lighting, sound and other matters having nothing to do with acting. What a mess! Also, the added stress about having to overcompensate with your imagination in order to make it work is debilitating.
Now for a reality check. Give yourself a break. Everyone is trying to figure it out so please do not think you are alone. Next, there is a balance that needs to be embraced. The Zoom audition works despite its limitations. For the time being, there is no other alternative for your live auditions (Eco-cast from Breakdown Services included here also). Finally, improvements in technology will, surely, make strides to improve the video quality and impact of your auditions.
Conclusion? YES! Live video auditions via Zoom (and other web
services) are here to stay. It is an economically useful tool who’s
value outweighs the negative issues we might experience. It should
also be understood that callbacks, chemistry reads and screen-tests
will be in person. Call it a high-bred with Zoom and Live happening for the foreseeable future. That said, there are still ways you can improve your on camera auditions and make the best of a compromised situation. Make sure you frame yourself well. That is with little head room (the top of your head to the top of the frame), asymmetrical positioning (not centered), good quality Lavalier microphone, and basic understanding of 3 point lighting. Being as comfortable as possible with the technical stuff will help you focus on the most important aspect of your audition…your acting. Please remember to give more time to your talent than you would the mumbo-jumbo of your setup. Continue to explore the best options for yourself and you will, without a doubt, become more proficient and comfortable.
Remember, it is all about showing the casting director how YOU will play the part. I’ve seen excellent actors audition holding their cell phone while walking and then again, I’ve seen actors with the very best technology (blue screen, DSLR camera, box lights) not perform well at all. When you can make incremental strides with your Zoom/Video auditions, you will also be moving toward success and become even more valuable when you book the job. Make the best impression with your acting and support your talent with technology that makes you feel comfortable and confident. Who knows, perhaps I will be watching your next audition on Zoom.
Jeffrey Dreisbach, Casting Partner, McCorkle Casting LTD
New York, NY